Friday, April 10, 2015

You Are Part of the Solution

Everything has been moving so quickly recently, it has been hard to keep everyone informed on all the plans and progress we've been making. We want to take a moment and share where we are and what we are planning.

As we indicated previously, we decided to take the St. Baldrick's Event Success as an indication that we need to continue to highlight and remember Harper in a meaningful way that helps kids with cancer.  To that end, we decided to pursue establishing a non-profit organization, named Hope From Harper, to fund childhood cancer research and support improvements in the care childhood cancer patients and their families receive.

After some discussion and consideration we asked David Elster to join Melissa and I as the starting 3 Board Members for Hope From Harper.  We also asked Betty Collins, mother of our good friend since high school Nicola Jackson, to join us as the organization's Treasurer.  Betty bring years of accounting experience to the table and we are so happy to welcome her as an officer of the organization.

For clarity and transparency, here is the initial make-up of the organization (as filed in all of our official documents):

  • Brian Wehneman - Board Chair and Executive Director
  • Melissa Wehnemen - Board Member and Secretary
  • David Elster - Board Member and Director of Community Outreach
  • Betty Collins - Treasurer

We wanted to start with a small and lean organization but we anticipate that we will have many others who have stood by us and supported us throughout the last 2 years who will also play major roles in the success of Hope From Harper.

As of April 7th, 2015 Hope From Harper Inc has been officially incorporated in the State of Indiana as a non-profit corporation.  We have also applied for and received an Employer Identification Number (EIN) and have submitted our application to receive tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). 

An interesting point about applying for tax-exemption with the IRS is, once approved, it will be retroactively applied to the date of establishment of the organization (April 7, 2015) since we applied within 27 months of the organization being created.  What that means is that we expect that any gifts made to Hope From Harper between April 7th and when we receive our tax-exempt approval letter should be considered tax-exempt and thus tax-deductible.  So, we are now able to start to accept donations with the expectation that those donations will receive tax-exempt treatment.

Of course we do not expect Hope From Harper to exist and flourish on simply direct donations alone (though ANYONE is welcome to give <wink wink>) so we have several ideas for fundraising events that you will be hearing more about in the future.  Of course, I would be remiss if I didn't provide some sort of a teaser:

  • It's Midnight Somewhere
  • White and Gold
  • Bourbon and Baldricks

We anticipate having some Hope From Harper merchandise available as well, including a new Hope From Harper shirt, silicone bracelets, and more.

It is an exciting time, but we know we can't do it alone.  If you are moved to volunteer, in whatever capacity you can, we invite you to get in touch with us.  Please email your interest to with your contact information and how you are interested in helping.

And of course, if you wish to donate directly (which we would so much appreciate) you can click the link below. If you do not wish to use PayPal or credit card online, you may also mail checks or money orders to:

Hope From Harper
PO Box 565
Georgetown, IN 47122

All donations will receive a receipt via email or snail-mail for tax records.

Again, a HUGE thank you to everyone who has helped support us to get us this far.  We really feel this is the beginning of something big, and want to ensure that Harper's legacy becomes a force to do good and help kids and their families affected by cancer.  We need ever-improving care and ultimately a cure.  

If you're reading this - YOU are part of the solution.

- Brian (Harper's Dad)

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

A Wild 24 Hours

The past 24 hours have seen a flurry of activity around Hope From Harper.

We have:

  • Applied for and received approval of our incorporation in the State of Indiana
  • Applied for and received an EIN (though admittedly this was automatically approved and assigned upon application)
  • Applied for 501(c)(3) status to become a federally tax-exempt organization

It's exciting to see so much progress!  Here's hoping the IRS turns our application around quickly!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

One Small Step For Man

Tonight we took a small but important step toward our goal of establishing a charitable organization in Harper's memory - we applied for incorporation as a non-profit organization in the State of Indiana.

After a few hours with the initial Board (myself, Melissa and David Elster), my generous brother Neil was able to help us navigate the writing of our by-laws.  I think it's safe to say that without Neil's guidance, we would still be swimming in a sea of uncertainty.  A BIG Harper Hug to Neil for his help so far (and in the future I'm sure).

After that, it was 5 minutes online and $26 charged to my credit card (a Harper Hug to Jen and Dean Heckel for contributing to cover the filing fee), and our application for incorporation has been filed with the State.  There are more things to come, but we feel happy that we are formally on our way.

Thank you to everyone who has supported us so far.  We are hopeful that many of you will continue to support us in this new and exciting endeavor.

It was one small step for man, but one giant leap for kids and families affected by childhood cancer.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Middle of Starting Over

Music has always had the ability to transform space and time. With just a few chords I can quickly be transported back to a time and place seemingly from another dimension. This has become especially true since Harper’s passing. I can’t hear certain songs without immediately becoming overwhelmed.

Oddly, it isn’t the songs you would expect. “Brave”, her personal anthem, only seems to be a problem when others react to it. “Compass”, the song sang at her celebration, brings a feeling of joy and freedom. However, there is one song that no matter how hard I try to distract myself or hold back the tears, I can’t seem to get past.

“The Middle of Starting Over” by Sabrina Carpenter is probably a song many of you have never heard before but one that instantly takes me back to days on end sitting in the hospital watching Disney Channel. This song, more so than any of the others played, has stuck with me.

Alone in a room
Tearing down the walls
Painting over scars and bruises
Now this is home
Fill it up with love
And make the best of something new

Yup, that’s about where we are. Not only is it where we are, but it is also where I envision Harper is. For all our talk of joy, Harper was likely pissed the day she woke up and found herself on the other side. She didn't like change, especially unexpected change, and she had some serious trust issues. The reason we choose joy is because she always moved past her anger and looked for the good.

For us, Hope From Harper is an effort to move forward, make the best of our new normal, and find the joy in life. I personally, have made lifelong friends I never would have crossed paths with had we not taken this journey. One such person is David Elster. Many of you will remember David as our contact for St. Baldrick’s. Occasionally you meet people and, even though you have only known them for a short time, you feel as if you have known them forever. For Brian and I, David is one of those people.

As we begin to sort through the logistics of starting a Not for Profit, one of the first decisions we are required to make is to choose a board of directors of at least three people. Until we solidify our direction, three people is enough. Eventually the board will grow as the foundation grows, but for now, protecting Harper’s memory is the most important thing. Entrusting her memory to someone outside of Brian and myself was a struggle I never envisioned (apparently I also have some trust issues), but as soon as David’s name was brought in the discussion it just felt right.

Beyond trusting him with Harps, David brings many attributes to Hope From Harper. As part of the Hope From Harper vision, we anticipate working with larger established organizations, the primary one being St. Baldrick’s. David’s involvement with St. B brings connections and experience. He has been involved with the organization for 5 years as a participant and for 3 years as a Volunteer Event Organizer in several different cities. As a financial advisor for Merrill Lynch he is able to help guide the foundation fiscally.

Most importantly, David brings his enthusiasm to better the lives and bring hope to families who have a child with cancer, and at its heart, that is what Hope From Harper is about.

As hard as it seems
I hold my breath and just believe

I’m in the middle of starting over